Faces of the news
When the taxi driver surfaced on Sunday, he raised more questions than threw light on the killing of former University of the Philippines student Carl Angelo Arnaiz, who was shot dead allegedly by policemen in Caloocan City on Aug. 18, a day after he disappeared from their neighborhood in Cainta, Rizal. Facing a gaggle of reporters, Tomas Bagcal confirmed that the 19-year-old Arnaiz robbed him in his cab. Arnaiz even tried to shoot him and when the gun jammed, whipped him in the head. The teen managed to get off the cab and flee. With the help of bystanders, Bagcal caught up with him and brought him to the police station on 9th Avenue. There, he was told by the policemen to follow them in his car along C-3 Road. “I saw someone walking ahead, then I heard several gunshots,” he said.
Dr. Erwin Erfe
Outraged by the killings of minors, the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) had come out in their defense. And thanks to its medico-legal officer Erwin Erfe, PAO’s statements had been backed by forensic evidence. Citing the results of PAO’s autopsy, Erfe said Kian delos Santos, 19, was “intentionally killed,” disputing police claims that the teen resisted arrest and fired at them during an antidrug operation in Caloocan on Aug. 16. After Tomas Bagcal surfaced, Erfe said there was no physical evidence from the crime scene on C-3 Road and from their autopsy to support the cabbie’s claim on the fatal shooting of Carl Angelo Arnaiz. When police announced that the body fished out of a creek in Nueva Ecija was not Reynaldo de Guzman’s, Erfe said PAO was standing by the claim of his parents that it was their son’s.
Caloocan Bishop Pablo David
Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David has become the face of the Catholic Church’s steadfast resistance against the thousands of killings under the Duterte administration’s war on drugs. The incoming vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, David has been a vocal critic of the deaths under the bloody crackdown, particularly in his ecclesiastical jurisdiction in Caloocan, Malabon and Navotas. The prelate was thrust into limelight after taking protective custody of three witnesses to the slaying of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos. After hours of negotiations with the police, the witnesses’ father opted to be placed under the protection of the Church. David had appealed to the witnesses and the victims’ families to speak out and prove that the deaths are not isolated cases, as claimed by the government.
On the day the House justice committee voted 30-4 to find the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno sufficient in form and substance, lawyer Carlo Cruz emerged from relative anonymity to act as her spokesperson. The complaint, filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, accused her of not declaring her real wealth, buying a luxury car with government funds and making questionable decisions without consulting her fellow magistrates. In Sereno’s defense, Cruz said that none of the allegations against her was true. “We maintain that Chief Justice Sereno has always lived a modest, God-fearing lifestyle,” said the constitutional law expert and author of several law books. “She has followed her oath of office and conducted herself with strict faithfulness to that oath.” Until then, Sereno has been silent.
Jose Luis Martin Gascon
When the House of Representatives slashed the Commission on Human Rights’ (CHR) budget to P1,000 over its criticism of the government’s bloody war on drugs, Luis Gascon appeared to be left holding an empty bag. After all, the drastic cut, if upheld by the Senate, would basically abolish the constitutional body. As if to rub salt to injury, President Duterte said Gascon “had it coming.” But the CHR chair soon found out that he was not alone in this fight. The House move drew condemnation and backlash even from international rights advocates such as Phelim Kine of the Human Rights Watch and Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on summary executions. On top of that, several senators vowed to restore the P678-million original allocation for the body when the budget goes to the upper chamber for deliberation.
After Rafael Nadal captured his 16th Grand Slam title, he attended a press conference wearing a white shirt listing the date and site of each triumph. And the Spanish superstar looked capable of adding more to that list as he closed out 2017 tennis season back at No. 1. Showing his game of old, the 31-year-old Nadal ruled the US Open after overwhelming South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, in the finals at Flushing Meadows. “I’m very happy to be back,” said Nadal, who also topped the French Open in June. “In terms of results, this has been one of the best seasons of my career, of course.” Nadal’s twin success in the 2017 Grand Slam season—which came following a two-year title drought that saw him deal with knee and wrist injuries—also marked the fourth time that he won at least two Slams in a year.